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By Jonathan Bales

Potential Draft Picks: Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama

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Alabama CB Javier Arenas could be the Cowboys' third round selection as a return specialist who would add depth at CB.

The Cowboys trio of cornerbacks are just about as good as one could hope for. Starters Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins were Pro Bowlers. Nickel second-year man Orlando Scandrick did take a step back from his rookie year, but improved vastly in the second half of the 2009 season.

Despite being on the field for just 573 snaps (as compared to 944 and 1,007 for Jenkins and Newman, respectively), Scandrick was targeted nearly as much as the starters. In fact, Scandrick was targeted on 14.5 percent of snaps which he took the field, highest in the entire NFL. While a large part of this number is certainly due to the talent of Jenkins and Newman, Scandrick did struggle a bit in the slot. His speed allows him to nearly always be in position, but he just did not make plays on the ball.

Still, Scandrick is a solid third cornerback. The Cowboys, if you remember, even began the 2009 season rotating starts between Scandrick and Jenkins before ultimately handing the job over to Mike.

As we all know, though, you can never have too many talented cornerbacks. Newman stayed healthy all of last season, but that is a bit of a rarity. The team cannot expect that again and should be well-equipped to deal with an injury or two down the stretch.

The depth of the position allows the team to not necessarily focus on cornerback, but simply select one in the middle or late rounds if he is the best player on their board. Alabama CB Javier Arenas, who we profiled as one of our ten players to watch at the NFL Combine this week, might be a good selection. The versatility he provides with his return abilities would justify the pick.

Scouting Report

Let’s start with the physical: Arenas is small. He might have been a first round selection if it wasn’t for his 5’9” frame. At that height, you would want Arenas to have blazing speed, but he doesn’t. He may run a mid-4.4 at the Combine.

Despite his lack of top-end speed, Arenas is a very good athlete. At corner, he has very fluid hips and adequate ball skills. He may have trouble competing to get the ball at its highest point, so his vertical leap could be more important than it is for other prospects.

Arenas is a tremendous return man that is capable of returning both punts and kickoffs. In 2009, he averaged over 15 and 29 yards on punt returns and kick returns, respectively. He displays outstanding vision on returns and doesn’t take too many wasted steps, getting upfield smoothly. He often resembles a running back once he gets his hands on the ball.

Overall, Arenas’ fluidity and return ability reminds us of Boise State prospect and fellow cornerback Kyle Wilson. Again, if Arenas was two inches taller, we believe he would be a borderline first round selection.

Projection

With teams placing an increased emphasis on the return game, the ability to return both punts and kickoffs could vault Arenas into the second round. To go there, though, he would have to prove to a team that he is capable of playing as a nickel CB.

Arenas would be an incredible pick in the back of the third round (Cowboys select #91). If he drops that far and Dallas has not yet upgraded the returner spots, expect Arenas to be a possibility to come in and become a return specialist who will add depth to the cornerback spot, perhaps pushing Alan Ball to full-time free safety.

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12 Responses to Potential Draft Picks: Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama

  1. john coleman says:

    He is a little small for my liking and then the speed issue. Even in the 3rd, we have more pressing needs. He is the type that could cause someone to let a player fall to us. For my money there are better prospects that have return skills. By better, I mean better for the Cowboys.

  2. jongb35 says:

    I like Arenas a bit more than you. While I would rather have McCluster, Gilyard, or Shipley, I do think Arenas in 3 would be good value, and we also would have addressed two other positions already. It is so difficult though to talk about who may or may not be available at certain points, particularly once you get out of the first round.

  3. john coleman says:

    I agree with availability and could see JJ moving in the 2nd and later to get someone they really like. However, I don’t see him giving up a whole lot to do it. I’m thinking Cook is a CB prospect with size. But I don’t think he helps in the return game. He could play safety though.

  4. jongb35 says:

    I think it depends on what they do in round one, but moving up at some point seems like the logical choice to me. There just are not many roster spots available, so it would really be smart to get two or three playmakers, even if it means sacrificing the quantity of picks.

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